tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC April 23, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
>> the failure to be awake in your decision making is disastrous, really disastrous when it comes to things like race and we're asleep. at best, we're asleep with race. thank you much. >> thanks, dylan. could have been a contender. let's play "hardball." >> good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight's star, no more. eight years ago he was a gleaming star of the democratic future, exciting packed rooms in the caucuses of the primary states. then he was the nominee for vice president, and now the one hot shot lawyer from north carolina is the defendant, facing charges that he broke campaign finance laws to cover up an extramarital affair. but is he guilty under the law, or is this a case of government
overreach? also, looking for trouble. are friends of obama's opponents trying to widen the secret service scandal to reach the white house, trying to taint the president in this mess? plus a long favored guest here at "hardball" is is facing a hard reelection. can she win with the so-called superpacs and the people behind the supreme court that created these menaces. let's hear from her tonight. and we said the obama people are dropping the mitt romney flip flop flap charge. now we have the evidence. this is the plan. look who is cheering him on rkts t the political master himself, bill clinton. we begin with the trial of john edwards. the executive director of the citizens group citizens for responsibility and ethics in
washington. and a north carolina attorney who is right there in court today. while there's no argument edwards is a cad, this case is about whether he violated campaign law. at issue whether nearly a million dollars that wealthy supporters gave were campaign contributions or simply personal gifts. prosecutors say they were campaign contributions that were used illegally because they allowed edwards to stay a viable presidential candidate. but the defense for edwards said the money was simply a gift, and further, edwards didn't know about it at the time. only eight years ago, he was the toast of the democratic party. he was gambling's. he had all kinds of issues and
walked to it. he was a dynamic speaker and able to make supporters whenever he appeared. edwards -- attention to his presidential hair-raising clip that went viral. ♪ >> it's funny unless you're him. let's go to the reality of this trial which could place john edwards in prison for 20 years. what happened today in the first day, sir? >> chris, i thought it was going to be a dry, academic
discussion, but it turned into a martial arts cage mass, in essence,en the united states versus john edwards but john edwards versus andrew young. >> we're looking at pictures of him going into the trial. when andrew young was promoting his tell-all book, i interviewed young, and it's a preview that edwards' team may take to discredit young himself. let's listen to what i did, because apparently it's a preview of what the edwards team will do today. >> you're pretending to be a loyal aide to john edwards for a year when you really weren't, and you were working either against him or you didn't like the guy anymore. >> i don't know that i was working against him, but i was on fred baron's payroll, i was not on john edwards' payroll.
>> but he said you were a hell of a guy. it seems you should get out. >> now what are they going to do in court as the day is proceeding? >> even the prosecution which is putting forward andrew young as their star witness spent a good bit of time today talking about his arrest record. he's had two arrests. that came out on direct examination. edwards made it clear by the local lawyer that this case of andrew young lining his pocket. not john edwards trying to promote his campaign. >> what is the fact whether he knew about this money, or that the money was used for contribution be and being shot
out of we hadlook. i. money from third parties to another third party, it wasn't a quid pro quo, it didn't buy a tv ad. surely they're going to focus on intent, but they're going to say this was andrew young defrauding and john edwards knew nothing about it. >> when you look at this case, i am very skeptical, i have to tell you right now, melanie. i don't think this is a criminal case of any merit at all. i think they found some new way, this republican u.s. attorney who was held over i about the the to mammogram i can that wedding, he was unfaithful to his wife, he had a child. and now he's being blamed for
doing something that really isn't related at all to those misdeeds. your thoughts. >> i'm with you entirely. i can't understand how the public sector is allowing this case to go forward. there is no basis for prosecution here. there's never been a prosecution for situations remotely similar to these facts. i think they're -- abby lowell wanted a bench trial and the prosecution denied that opportunity. so they're trying to expend all sorts of resources to prove to the jury that this guy z -- i want you to take a minute now because you know this case on both sides. tim argued. this is really a campaign
contribution the public from laying out the. anything you do for a kennedy, is that a contribution to piz campaign? is any moment now at 74. >> john edwards said he wasn't vold and didn't know about it, and campaigns are going to jail for that. they didn't get nil, irrespective of the fact that you're a candidate. presumably having a mistress is something you would still do if you. then how is it you're prosecuted with somebody spends money on your with itness. >> what is the progression case
about, what this guy is facing 20 do-gooder type in. i certainly in the orbit of canada for high public office coming from his political support irz, and there's no question i think this is a mixed motive. there's also a question that there's never been a case like this before, never been a prosecution based on facts like this. >> why do you think the prosecutor acted? the guy who brought the charges investigated this case. was the u.s. attorney picked by president george w. bush. he then went on to announce his candidacy for congress coming out of this case. was it partisan? it was a partisan prosecution. >> it's certainly a troubling
fact. george holding, the republican who will find out in a couple weeks whether he's going to be a member of congress because it's a safe republican seat, if he wins his congressional primary, he might be running for john edwards' old senate seat. he drove this investigation, he drove the press for an indictment after crossing swords with the president in some amount of years in a partisan years, he stepped down and announced he was running for congress. chris, andrew young, the government's star witness, was contacting other witnesses in the case as recently as a few days ago. it's a very serious fact that's come out. the government can't be happy with it, particularly heels of the steven prosecution. >> it seems this guy andrew young, i don't think much about him obviously. i called him a rat fink because he pretended to be helping edwards when he was working
against him. why is he being such a good government witness? has he been immunized against the prosecution himself? >> he has indeed been immunized, and he has all sorts of legal problems. that's going to be one of the issues here. further, even in his own book, he talks about the gifts from fred baron and buddy melon and he talks about them being legitimate gift, not campaign contributions. so the prosecution is even going to need andy to refute his own words from his own book. >> they will become partisan like those third world countries where the minute you use an election or become flawed in power, the p prosecution begin to shun you. are they really trying to link the president's people to wh
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mark aruba is changing his tune. he now says he wants bipartisan presidential selection process, even if it includes him. rubio is campaigning in pennsylvania in the primary there. rubio was the name mentioned by the web site buzz speed. the ohio center ron portman will probably be the nominee for vp. we'll be right back. went to fid. we looked at our family's goals and some ways to help us get there. they helped me fix my economy, the one in my house. now they're managing my investments for me. and with fidelity, getting back on track was easier than i thought. call or come in today to take control of your personal economy. get one-on-one help from america's retirement leader.
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involved, causing the question is the white house here an opponent? she's on the house oversight committee and he's a pulitzer prize-winning columnist. i always builds him up because he deserves it. congresswoman, thank you. i've always respected your work. let's look at this thing objectively. where are we right now in terms of targeting of people? a number of them have already resigned, we have one person who has been sort of cleared, we have people added to the list again. where does this stand? >> well, i spoke to director sullivan on saturday night, and he is determined to get to the bottom of this. they are under a thorough investigation, but i'd like to respond to your initial comments. i believe that these attempts to implicate the white house on innuendo not based on fact at all is nothing more than a
fishing expedition, and i believe the american people are focused on jobs and growing the economy and that they will judge this type of witch hunt very harshly. the white house did their own internal investigation and said they did not find any white house personnel implicated in any way, shape or form. >> gee, i think there's a common sense aspect to this, a positive smell. the president didn't even get there until a couple days after this mayhem, and now they're trying to say because one of these guys who may have been involved stayed at the same hotel the president later stayed out somehow incriminated him. >> is it a legitimate question? the white house asked this question of themselves. obviously they sent advance people down on the trip, so let's make sure our people are clean, we're not involved in this thing. they say they have gone through and they have made sure. so it does sound like a fishing expedition, but the white house
better be right on this. >> but grassley, the senator, he practically ordered everybody up for an appointment. le let's take a look at this, congresswom congresswoman. on friday, the iowa senator, grassley, wrote a letter to sullivan asking if anybody in the white house were also potentially involved in this scandal. and yesterday joe lieberman was asked the possibility on "face the nation." let's watch senator lieberman. >> do you have any indication that anybody from the white house was involved? >> i don't, but i tell you, if anybody at the white house asked for my counsekou council he wil counsell on this, they ought to be making their own independent review of who was in cardajena to make sure nobody working in the white house was involved in
the same kind of inappropriate behavior that the secret service agents were. >> i think he's a little late. they've already done it. he is not a democrat. let's look at this. white house press secretary jay carney answered this. >> the white house has conducted a review, and in concluding that review came to the conclusion that there is no indication that any member of the white house advance team engaged in any improper conductor behavior. so simply out of due diligence, the last couple days that review was conducted, and it pro duduc no indication of any misconduct. >> two questions to you, what is a legitimate inquiry? i would think it might be patterns of behavior. is this something that's happened in the past that sort of wields up, rings off for a ceremony they had down there
which is hardly fun in you're married to one of these people. and the other one is the question of if, in fact, there was some involvement by the communications team which is not bipartisan and not elected by the president. anyone else involved, can you tell, and was there a pattern here? >> so far director sullivan has conducted a thorough investigation, and when a report comes out, he is reporting information as he comes to it. but this is not a political issue, this is about protecting national leaders. and i believe no matter who was in the white house, there would be a bipartisan response as we've had, but numerous questions being sent to the pentagon and to director sullivan to answer, including my own, where are the women? i want to commend paula reed, who is a female agent in charge who was sent in to take charge, and by all reports she's done an excellent job, bob. quoted in the "washington post" was a statement by a former
secret service man who said that if paula reed -- if every boss was like paula reed, this would never happen. so i personally believe if we had had more women on the ground of equal rank, maybe this would not have happened. if we had more diversity, more minorities, only 11% of the whole force is female. and i believe that changing this would make a stronger elite force. >> okay, i'm always for adversity. how would ethnic diversity have avoided this? i'm just curious with your thinking. i understand why having women around men makes them more macho. it sort of calms the herd, if you will. how could this value in itself have prevented this thing from happening? >> i believe it's a value in itself, but i believe that certainly women and like-minded men who are upholding the standards of its elite core, they have a definite standard that you are not supposed to in
any way interact with the nationals. here we were having nationals back to their hotel room. it was clearly a violation of the rules, it's under investigation, and i'm sure that it will be completed and steps will be put in place so it won't happen again. >> let's take a look, congresswoman, at somebody that doesn't agree with you completely, and that's one of the reasons we brought this up tonight. president obama came under fire, as you know, from jeff sessions of bam ballast week who said the president needs to display more managerial qualities to display more of the secret service. >> the president needs to assert discipline, management directions throughout the executive branch, and the president ought to be held responsible. i don't sense that this president is showing that kind of managerial leadership, and at this point in history, in my
view, is one of the most important qualities in a president. >> it's hard for me to take that seriously. >> the president is supposed to spend, what, three minutes and 10 seconds a day running gsa and two minutes running -- it's ridiculous. of course, that's not the president's job. that was other people's job. >> let's talk about what your job s congresswoman. do you think mark sullivan should retain his position leading the secret service? there seems to be a lot of support, your colleague mr. king and others. is he a good leader from what you can tell in your oversight role? >> where me? >> yes. >> i think he has the confidence. he was originally appointed by former president bush. leaders from both sides of the aisle are supporting him. he's conducting a thorough investigation, and i would say that sessions' attempts to attack the president are nothing more than cheap, political shots. it shows that so far that a
couple of bad apples are putting their name on a good agency who has performed in the past, and this is not about politics. this is about facts and getting to the bottom of what happened and protecting our national leaders. >> thank you so much for coming. those are wise words, i believe. congresswoman carolyn maloney. coming up, why did former presidential candidate john huntsman compare his republican party to the prc, the communist party of china? what's he thinking? is he right? that's coming up in the side show. you're watching "hardball." ♪
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primaries when mayor rudy giuliani had this to say about mitt romney. >> he changes his position on so many things so fast, on a dime. pro choice, pro life. he was pro gun control. fine. then he becomes a lifetime member of the nra. he was pro mandate for the whole country. then he becomes anti-mandate and takes that page out of his book and republishes the book. i can go on and on. >> he had it right back then. today giuliani came around like all politicians, he adores romney and managed to take a shot at the admittedly more likeable president obama in the process. >> i think mitt has won fair and square. he's proven he is the most likely republican. if i got a terrible cancer or something to be operated on, when i was operated on for prostate cancer, i didn't go to the nicest doctor, i went to the
best doctor. he could tell the best jokes but put the knife in the wrong way. >> put the knife in the wrong way? john huntsman is in the spotlight today for some comments he made at an event last night. huntsman talked about how he was disinvited from a fundraiser recently after suggesting the presidential race might call for a third candidate. he said, quote, this is what they do in chain on party matters if you talk off script. here's huntsman today on "morning joe." >> if you're not on script and you get knocked out of an event like that, the parties are supposed to be bringing in all ideas. i thought for a moment about what they do in china, they knock you out. we shouldn't be doing that here. >> i think talking about a third party might be a problem in any party. huntsman blames his failure as a candidate this year in part on the compliments he got from
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welcome back to "hardball." the white house is refocusing its line of attack against mitt romney right now. gone is the language of flip-flopper and the clever one etch a sketch. instead, say hello to mitt romney, severe conservative. it's bill clinton who has been urging president obama to take this hard line approach. he said the full core approach failed to capitalize on romney's greatest vulnerability. his conservativism that turns off hispanics, women and independents. he said he should focus exclusively on romney's description of himself as a severe conservative. obama campaign adviser david
axelrod used the new line of attack, the clinton approved line, this weekend. let's listen. >> a lot of republicans in congress want to cooperate and know better, but they're in the thralls of this reign of terror from the right, and president obama is beating the republicans by 40 points. there's a reason for that, and that's because romney and the republicans have gone far right. i think they'll realize that was the wrong way to go. >> look at the cover on "the economist ", "the hardball campaign." let's talk about changing direction in the campaign. howard, you don't change if it's working. let's be tough on the obama foam f -- people for a second. if they thought the flip-flopper was working, they would keep it
up. it won't work because the middle of the road people say, oh, he's a flip-flopper. so am i. i change things in the middle of the day. maybe he'll be a moderate. >> in the primary season where the obama campaign was trying to create as much trouble as they could, they wanted to emphasize the flip-flop message because they wanted to make the right wing of the republican party fearful of mitt romney. >> because they didn't want him to win. >> they didn't want him to win. they wanted to sow as much discord as possible which is why they did it that way. as soon as romney wraps up, they move to a different strategy. did it work, did it not? it didn't really help president obama in the matchup, but now they're in general election mode and i think they are taking bill clinton's advice if the following logic, which is if they want to win the middle, they have to try to push mitt romney -- >> let me ask a general
question. as you know mitt romney, is he the governor we knew, pro choice, pro environmental, did all the things in health care. not bad, not a very popular governor. we're going to see this crazed guy out there. >> i think howard hits the right point in terms of the primary. the primary has you framing arguments to your face to let you know on key things you're ready to fight. i think you'll see this shift toward the general election. you'll see more of that moderate conservativism, that balanced sort of argument that talks about the conservative principles, particularly on a financial front. but all that concerning rhetoric goes to the social issues, whether we're talking about women's health and those kinds of things, abortion. i think romney is going to find a way, and i think he will find a way to bring that message
around, focus the moderate conservative message on the economy that recognizes that people make decisions in their lives personal to them. he has already said a number of times, i don't want to get into that discussion. that's not for me to talk about as a presidential candidate. >> but what good is it to talk about gas prices, howard, if you're hispanic? when he says self-deport, when he comes out with these very conservative positions on conservatives' rights, how does he hide from that? that's my question. >> well, i think the obama campaign will try to paint himself into this corner, and i think he painted himself into the corner. how he gets out of that now, i don't know. but what i think bill clinton and barack obama are trying to do is to keep him in the corner that he put himself in. it does make the question about who he is at his core. what do you think? which is he? >> i think on the issue of
immigration, for example, barack obama has got an issue here as well. >> we all love history here. it used to be you could go down to louisiana, and i don't know if humphrey did this or ruone o the long brothers. you could travel around the state before there was really reporting, and you could say my roman catholic grandmother, roman catholic grandfather, and nobody was keeping score because it depended what town you were in. now we have videotape. we can throw it up there. the democrats can do it, right? how does this guy go from hard right to conservative to this regular mainstream character he's portraying himself as? >> first off, you're making the assumption that there's something wrong with being conservative, that conservativism is not going to win the argument this fall, and i think it still can. i don't think romney has to go out there and prove to be
severely conservative on every issue. >> he says he was. you know he's saying he doesn't really believe in -- how can you say you go from flatter to i don't believe in evolution to all of a sudden he's into evolution? >> those are your words, chris, because that's what you want to paint him to be. >> that's who he is. >> that's not who he is. >> anyway, look, howard, let's take a look -- >> what is this grand wizard nonsense? don't go there with me on that. >> okay, good. thank you. the latest nbc general poll, there's about 30 of them in the congress right now.
take a look the among latino voters, obama leads 69 to 22. the president also has a big lead with younger voters, women and independents. how is he doing with that, howard? how does he move over to the center. and they're saying no, he's severely right. is it a smart move to say he's a right winger, even if you're a democrat saying he's more right than he portrayed himself as. what kind of a strategy should the democrats run? >> what they're doing now, if they can do it. if they want to pin mitt romney in the corner, as we said before, that he put himself in in the primary campaign. and it's up to mitt romney to explain a coherent theory of who he is and why he's running and where he really stands after having survived the primary season. he has an opportunity to do that because barack obama's campaign is essentially going to be -- try to be -- about mitt romney. barack obama is not really going to run on his record.
he's going to run on mitt romney. mitt romney is too extreme, he's too right wing, he's too crazy. now, that presents an opportunity for mitt romney if he can take it. it's like the ronald reagan thing, here you go again, if roit my mitt romney can jujitsu it. >> it romney will come out and denounce all the birtherrism, all the attempt to make barack obama some kind of foreigner, he's not really american, i'll be with him on that point. none of those guys really do that stuff, anyway. up next, senator of missouri. she's trying to hold onto her seat. let's watch her fight. she's coming here. there she is, she's ready to fight. you're watching "hardball." i'm here with karen and her bffs
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united. nobody i know thinks this is good for american democracy to have these superpacs running around as a menace in this country attacking people without even a mention of who is paying for it. your thoughts. >> that is really the insidious part of this, chris, is that there's already been $3 million of anonymous hits on me in missouri. i got to tell you, if missourians knew who was paying for these ads, i think they would be proud of me. i haven't been afraid to take on the big guys, and that's what's so frustrating, is the notion that this isn't transparent. if you're fgoing to open the doors, that's one thing, and tell companies they can give as much money to buy elections, but to do it anonymously, which the republicans completely blocked us on at least having disclosure of who was giving this money. >> a lot of people, carl robe
was pushing this. he was the mastermind, the architect, he calls himd, behind bush w. then you got the coke brothers,n we have brothers that are billionaires out there doing this right wing stuff. are they the ones coming after you? >> yeah, i'm getting all of the name brands, i'm at the top of a lot of folk's list, and i'm trying to turn it. i'm going to let mississippians no that if you don't know who is paying for it, don't believe it. i'm proud that we raised a lot of money last corner, but 90% came in donations of less than $200. on clairemccaskill.com, we can have our own pac. >> i would think that president obama, who would have a tough
time in your state, except on this issue, bringing back the auto industry. it was dead and buried, and obama decided to get in there and back it and save all of the companies that we have come to respect, and at the same time romney said let them die. >> in missouri, the gm factory just added a second shift. in kansas city at the ford plant, a billion dollar investment is being made right now. we held on to the notion that we can say made in america for automobiles. that was worth saving. even that wants to slam the stimulus needs to real that gm just took over as the number one manufacturer in the world. that would not have happened without the stimulus in a time of economic recession.
and they want to go back to figures out a way to give more and more tax breaks to the mega wealthy, and create less jobs, and we all know that didn't work last time. >> i'm a booster of senators with you because i don't think it will work without moderates on both sides. you're on the more moderate side of the democratic party. if you don't have moderates like you, the democrats will not be a majority. make the case for why you believe someone like yourself, not a lefty, should be in the senate. >> well, i have to tell you, chris. as you well know, as a student of the senate through history. they have done it's best work around the table of compromise, and it happens because of moderates. many of your listeners may not want to hear this, but if we don't have moderates, we won't
get things done on behalf of the american people. ly talk to a lot of mississippians,ly not get much sleep, and proudly tell them i'm part of a moderate middle that believes compromise is something we need to value in this democracy. if we're at opposite ends, we will never sell the hard problems. the folks running against me, they're so extreme, they make some of these people in the house look like moderates. they're very, very extreme folks. >> are the tea party folks still running the parties out there? >> yes, by and large. in fact, i think that some of the moderate republicans tried to get somebody else to run against me. they all took a pass, so we have three people running about whether or not their the tea party endorsed candidate. one got one, the other two said that's not the real tea party, we have the tea party
endorsement. so this is about fighting for the far right-wing base of the party. that's who will get the nomination in my state. so the missourians will have a real choice, a moderate, or someone that wants to turn out the lights on the government. >> please come back as often as you can. we love moderates and smart people that want the country to work. when we come back, let me talk about the unsettled political times we're in, and i'm feeling it. hi, i just switched jobs, and i want to roll over my old 401(k) into a fidelity ira. man: okay, no problem. it's easy to get started; i can help you with the paperwork. um...this green line
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let me finish tonight with this. we're in a dangerous time in politics. there's no big fights in the congress, no raging push by the president for action, nor the counterforce of resistance. there's just a stir of the george zimmerman case, the embarrassment of the secret service workers, the gsa party out west. this is a dangerous time especially for the president and the political party controlling the white house. people want a leader, they want someone in control. they want to feel the authority coming from the top, otherwise chaos takes it's part. the ranks because their liberties and troubles come in the air.
i don't like it. ill winds are in the air, and the natural authority figures are missing from the scene. i like when president obama is fighting the opposition, and there are high stakes on the table, and the american people see their champions fighting. they like a good fight to know their interests are being protected or battled for. right now there's just unease in the air, an unsettled criminal case, messy behavior by men, people duty bound to keep the order are anything but. this is when the small people rise up. in capitol hill you see them peaks out of offices issuing statements of interest trying to find themselves a role. it's time for this president, elected to a bigger role, to grab the reigns, pull